PROSPECT-LEFFERTS GARDENS — Maybe she just wanted a little tea and sssssympathy.
A 3-foot non-venomous pet corn snake escaped its cage in an apartment at 433 Rogers Ave. near Lefferts Avenue and slithered downstairs Thursday morning into a neighbor's kitchen, where it had to be removed by police, according to neighbors.
The orange and yellow spotted snake, named Zen Tao, which is Chinese for “precious peach,” apparently slipped out of a hole in its cage a few hours before showing up in a cabinet beneath a downstairs neighbor's sink just before 12:30 p.m., according to the snake's owners.
“I just woke up and I wanted something under the sink,” said the woman who found the snake, who declined to give her name. “I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so I think something just dropped down, but [then] I see it moving. And I think ‘No, no, no.’ I opened it again and I say, ‘Yeah, it is’… and then I called the police.”
When police arrived, they removed the snake from the woman’s cabinet on the second floor and located its owners, a couple who had moved into an apartment on the third floor this month, residents said.
The snake's owners, both graduate students who declined to give their names, said they’d discovered their pet had gone missing about an hour before the police showed up at their door.
“We saw a little hole [in the cage’s cover] where she could have escaped,” said the man.
The snake eats dead mice about twice a month, and has lived in the woman’s family since she found it in her yard in Orlando, Florida more than 10 years ago, the owner said. Usually, Zen Tao is a very calm pet and has never escaped before, they said.
“Today is an abnormal day for her,” the man said Thursday as Zen Tao slithered around her glass cage, newly fortified with heavy boxes and books stacked on top of its cover.
Many kinds of snakes are illegal to keep as pets in the city, including vipers, cobras, anaconda or pythons, but corn snakes are not banned according to the city’s health code.
But the woman who found Zen Tao thinks if you're going to have a pet snake, you have to be careful with it.
“This is a free country. It’s their apartment,” she said. “But if you have a pet, you have to do the necessary thing.”